April 11, 2008

Obama won't pay "street money" — a "Philadelphia ritual."

The local volunteers expect to be handed $10, $20, and $50 bills.
A neutral observer, state Rep. Dwight Evans, whose district is in northwest Philadelphia, said there might be a racial subtext to the dispute. Ward leaders, he said, see Obama airing millions of dollars worth of television ads in the city -- money that benefits largely white station owners, feeding resentment. People wonder why Obama isn't sharing the largesse with the largely African American field workers trying to get him elected, Evans said.

"They view it that the white people are getting all the money for TV," said Evans, an African American and former ward leader. "And they're the ones who are the foot soldiers on the street. They're predominantly African Americans, and they're not the ones who are getting that TV money."

Hardscrabble neighborhoods across the city have come to depend on street money as a welcome payday for knocking on doors, handing out leaflets and speaking to voters as they arrive at polling places.

Peter Wilson, a ward leader from West Philadelphia, said: "Most of the ward leaders, we live in a very poor area, and people look forward to election days. . . . People are astute. They know the Obama campaign has raised millions of dollars."
It's not clear that the Clinton campaign will dole out the cash either — I bet they won't — but in 2004, John Kerry's campaign "paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in street money to Philadelphia's Democratic apparatus." And there's a story about Walter Mondale talking to a Philadelphia crowd in 1980 and getting the first question: "Where's the money?"

According to the article, it's not illegal. If the tradition is to pay grassroots-level people for their work — compensate them for their expenses? — can you come in and stiff them? But if it looks corrupt to outsiders — and it does — Obama must be worrying that Clinton will accuse him of paying the people in Philadelphia to pad the vote for him while she gets honest votes from real supporters in the rest of the state. (This is why I bet the Clintons won't pay.) If this happens, it will be racial politics, and the Clintons have to find a subtle way to say it without saying it.

63 comments:

knoxwhirled said...

a welcome payday for knocking on doors, handing out leaflets and speaking to voters as they arrive at polling places.

Getting paid for "volunteering" ?

I and my neighbors have had to do a lot of this kind of thing lately trying to fight off a gross condo development. Asking for $$$ for working towards something you supposedly believe in... hmph.

Ann Althouse said...

They can't be considered employees, can they? There would be various labor laws that would apply and requirements of benefits. Record-keeping. I assume it's characterized as compensating them for expenses.

SGT Ted said...

If this was a republican candidate passing out bribes to get people to "volunteer", we'd see and hear no end to opponents crying about "purchasing votes" and "paying people to like them".

But, it's Democrats passing out cash for what is ordinarily a voluntary function, so thats, like, normal.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:

In Philly, this is a long tradition and is a tool used primarily by the DEMS.
However I would not say it is race-oriented.

The Dems have used it in virtually all of the city's neighborhoods to elect whatever color DEM candidate they placed on the ballot. There have been rare occasions where the street people have been instructed to push a Republican candidate when a DEM has fallen out of favor.

I do see how the Clintons could use this to their advantage.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Are they employees?

I just taught a section on independent contractors, and I'm not certain.

It might be sorta of a gift. Sorta.

At any rate enforcement officials are so swamped that enforcement action is unlikely, if not impossible.

ricpic said...

I be 'stute, you be 'stute, all God's chilluns be 'stute.

The Drill SGT said...

The fact is that the "volunteers" dont get the money directly.

it flows down hill through the machine and ward heelers. If you don't think that a lot sticks to peoples, palms along the way, I've got a vacant lot in Chicago, that I'd like to sell you for %800k

its a corrupt practice. plain and simple.

Sloanasaurus said...

Just because there is a leak that Obama won't be doing it, I bet it still happens.

The MSM now believes that Obama won't be buying votes because he leaked a story about how voters are mad at him. It's so obvious and classic Obama misdirection. This a very competitive election and Obama has a lot of money and he needs blacks to turn out. The money will be coming. Count on it.

Zeb Quinn said...

This is the infamous "walking around money," no?

I agree it'll happen just like always. Make a big deal about how you're NOT doing it, then that'll be the story that everybody reports. Nobody pays attention when you go ahead and do it anyway.

I suspect the amounts that get doled out are vastly underreported. How does anyone know where it actually ends up? How does anyone know whether people aren't paid for their voting a certain way?

TMink said...

"They view it that the white people are getting all the money for TV"

Obama, America's best hope for racial healing. Please. America's best hope for racial healing is Bill Cosby.

Trey

rightwingprof said...

He's not even in the White House yet, and people are already grumbling because they're not getting handouts.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Back in the bad old days, it was simply called "buying the black vote." Apparently not much has changed.

ricpic said...

Bill Cosby is Bill Cosby's best hope for ecumenical humping.

MadisonMan said...

One word comes to mind: entitled.

I would never ask for money for volunteering, and would be embarrassed to have it pressed on me. It's possible I'd feel differently about it were I very poor, but I hope not. (And I hope not to be tested)

AlphaLiberal said...

Good for Obama to sticking to clean politics.

Sounds like Lieberman's kind of place, though. He who had a "petty cash" fund of over $380,000 and unaccounted for monies spent in chunks greater than $100. Not very legal, there, Holy Joe!

By the way, the FBI found that the Lieberman web site crashed of the weight of it's own incompetence, not because of sabotage as the liar claimed on election day.

AJ Lynch said...

Almost forgot this point:

This "WAM" or walking around money has been a big big issue in recent years in judicial elections.

Because a few judge candidates balked at paying the $100K or so required to get the ward leaders to push their candidacy.

Roger J. said...

Seems to me this political "tradition" goes back to the days of Tammany Hall. While corrupt, it probably enjoys a very long pedigree in urban organzing and ward politics. (NOT justifying it).

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sloanasaurus said...

Good for Obama to sticking to clean politics.

ROTFL. The left is delusional. They say they support freedom and human rights too....

garage mahal said...

According to itemized receipts, in 1758 George Washington's agent supplied 160 gallons of rum, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer, and 2 gallons of cider royal to prospective voters in a July election in Frederick County. There's a man serious about my vote.

And in the spirit of bipartisanship he proclaimed "I hope no Exception were taken to any that voted against me but that all were alike treated and all had enough; it is what I much desired".

Chip Ahoy said...

Behold, the corruption that is ... oh forget it.

Last week I dreamed of having a conversation with Barak Hussein Obama. They call him Barry. That's my older brother's name. He was exactly like my brother. That made me like him muchly. He was such a good listener. He seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying which encouraged me to really start spouting off. Then Michelle suddenly leapt over the parapet and interrupted us. She changed the dynamics completely and I suddenly woke up.

Last night I dreamt of going camping with Hillary Clinton. She sat next to me in the car. I thought, "Oh shit." I complained about being rushed at the last minute by that other guy and that made me space out my camera with all my new neat-o lenses. She didn't care about the camera, but otherwise seemed to be a perfectly reasonable and civil person. I complained more about not appreciating being rushed and fretting about being camera-less, the dream petered out and and that made me wake up, thinking "Glad that didn't happen."

These dream invasions by presidential candidates simply must stop.

None of them offered me cash for voluntarily dreaming and I would have thought them corrupt if they had.

Roger J. said...

Garage--that would my vote too--no wonder they call him the father of our country.

former law student said...

Philly -- finally a city more corrupt than Chicago.

Middle Class Guy said...

In Chicago, if you work the streets for a political campaign, you are given priority for city or county employment. Working the streets for money or jobs is akin to prostitution. That is the Democratic Party way.

Middle Class Guy said...

former law student said...
Philly -- finally a city more corrupt than Chicago.



I doubt it, but they are close. We just have to be more subtle now. They do not call Cook County Crook County for nothing you know.

Anthony said...

>If this was a republican candidate passing out bribes to get people to "volunteer", we'd see and hear no end to opponents crying about "purchasing votes" and "paying people to like them".


IIRC, in the 1993 NJ Governor's race, Ed Rollins claimed he paid "walking around money" but then said he exagerated.

Anthony said...

BTW -- Chip, if I were you, I'd change my barnd of liquor.

Trooper York said...

Wow Chip, I never heard that version of the "I Had A Dream" speech before. Cool.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS said:

"Philly -- finally a city more corrupt than Chicago." That was Philly's old slogan.

The new slogan is the "City That Loves You Back Whether You Want It Or Not".

AlphaLiberal said...

Sloan:
They say they support freedom and human rights too....

Said the guy who supports torture, invading and occupying other countries, wiretapping, etc, with no apparent sense of "irony"...

Where are you on equal rights for homosexuals, Sloan? Think they should be 2nd class citizens?

How about collective bargaining rights? For or against?

Equal Rights Amendment?

How about civilians killed in Iraq by US troops? Think the troops should be tried?

How about the people in Gitmo, especially the innocent ones who are denied the right to a day in court.

How do you square all that with a supposed support for freedom and human rights? Can't be done. You only like the sound of the word freedom, not the actual practice.

reader_iam said...

Think the troops should be tried?

Do you, Alpha?

Diggs said...

Does every post in the blogosphere end up with some Lefty retard asking about bringing "the troops" up on trial?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

it will be racial politics, and the Clintons have to find a subtle way to say it without saying it.

Shoot, easy day. All they have to do is to quote this guy

They view it that the white people are getting all the money for TV," said Evans, an African American and former ward leader. "And they're the ones who are the foot soldiers on the street. They're predominantly African Americans, and they're not the ones who are getting that TV money."


Racial politics, graft and kickbacks at it's best. If Obama's campaign has done nothing else, it has uncovered the 'ugly' under the rocks and exposed the racism, anti-semitism, graft and corruption in the Black community and the the way politicians who are Black use and abuse their own.

Simon said...

Garage, you omit the surrounding context of the book from which you're quoting. Set back into context, the passage reads that "Washington was emphatic in his belief that his hospitality on election day was not an attempt to buy votes with food and drink. He wrote to an associate that 'I hope no Exception were taken to any that voted against me but that all were alike treated and all had enough; it is what I much desired; my only fear is that you spent with too sparing a hand.' The young Washington knew that hospitality and liberality were two of the defining characteristics of a genuine gentry man, and this display of his generosity, in combination with his ability to mobilize men of interest and influence on his behalf, marked the beginning of a remarkably successful political career." Richard Beeman, The Varieties of Political Experience in Eighteenth-Century America 41 (2004). Washington's provisions were designed to convey the image of a "genuine gentry man" - and why was that important? Because those were the kind of men elected. "In subsequent years, as his reputation as a man of personal courage and sound political judgment grew, Washington would not need to go to such lengths to reinfoce his claims to the public trust, but at this early stage, it was not sufficient merely to announce his willingness to serve." Id. at 42.

Middle Class Guy said...

AlphaLiberal said...
Where are you on equal rights for homosexuals, Sloan? Think they should be 2nd class citizens?

How about collective bargaining rights? For or against?

Equal Rights Amendment?

How about civilians killed in Iraq by US troops? Think the troops should be tried?

How about the people in Gitmo, especially the innocent ones who are denied the right to a day in court.



Man oh man, there he goes again. Ranting and raging. Homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else except marriage; they also have the same right to keep their sex lives private, like the rest of us.

We have collective bargaining. Big deal. Most unions are useless and the workers know it. Why do you think membership keeps shrinking?

Do not need an equal rights amendment. We are past that now. Maybe you should leave the Sixties. This is the Twenty First Century.

How about Iraqi civilians killed by Moslem insurgents? Think the Moslems should be tried? How about the US Soldiers killed by Moslems? Should we try them too or just kill them?

Who cares about the terrorists and sympathizers in Gitmo, except for a few far left wackos? I do not see any mainstream Dem pols fighting for them.

Simon said...

Alpha said:
"How about the people in Gitmo, especially the innocent ones who are denied the right to a day in court."

What evidence do you have that there are "innocent" prisoners in Guantanamo (stipulating, arguendo, the concept that they're detained because there are crimes of which they're guilty or innocent)? Or is this another of your "Bush administration discussed suspending the Constitution" claims?

KLDAVIS said...

Diggs said...

Does every post in the blogosphere end up with some Lefty retard asking about bringing "the troops" up on trial?


It's the new Godwin's Law...

-kd

Simon said...

Middle Class Guy said...
"Homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else except marriage...."

That's not true. They have the same rights as everyone else, including marriage. I was free to marry any woman I wanted, and so does a gay man; I was not free to marry a man should I have so desired, and neither are they. Seems pretty equal to me.

Although I must confess that I love the joke that anyone who's opposed to gay sex ought to be in favor of gay marriage since the latter will put a stop to the former.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Does every post in the blogosphere end up with some Lefty retard asking about bringing "the troops" up on trial?


Seems like it. We haveGodwins Law. Maybe we need to invent a new rule for "when you have nothing else to offer the current conversation you derail it with the troops, torture, no wmds etc".

What in the world are these people going to talk about when Bush is no longer President?

ted said...

come now Alphaliberal, why be so modest? Why don't you come right out and say that EVERY Aerican Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and National Guardsman shouldn't get a trial and should just be shot? That is what you and your fellow travelers believe so why not have the courage of your convictions and say it?

M. Simon said...

I liked Joe Kennedy's attitude.

"Im not going to pay for any votes I don't need"

Or the rallying cry in a Rockefeller campaign:

Make him spend it all.

How times do change. NOT!

Sloanasaurus said...

Where are you on equal rights for homosexuals, Sloan? Think they should be 2nd class citizens?

Actually, I support the concept of civil unions, meaning that the state to offer a simple way to create contractual rights for to gay people to "marry."

The concept of traditional marriage however has too many historical generalizations for it to be applied to gays, (i.e. it is assumed and demanded that marriage produce children). Moreover, marriage is not a right that one has as an individual necessarily, it is a social right bestowed by others, meaning that others treat you in a certain way when you are "married."

If gay marriage were allowed then gay couples would have to be treated equally as married couples. For example, if gay marriage was passed, it would not be right to grant a man and a woman couple preferential treatment over adopting children. Gays who were discriminated against by such a policy whould be able to sue, claiming that their gay marriage is not really marriage as long as such a preference exists.

Because I believe a preference should exist, a civil union concept would be more appropriate than marriage.

Simon said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
"What in the world are these people [on the left] going to talk about when Bush is no longer President?"

How evil President McCain and his house nigger Vice President Rice are, to judge by the campaign so far in general and tenor of the reaction to Rice's name being floated specifically.

reader_iam said...

I'll tell you what, $20 bucks is nowhere NEAR enough money to walk down some streets in Philadelphia, the landscape of which resembles a war zone as much as anything else (burned out cars, etc. etc. etc.).

Just sayin'.

AJ Lynch said...

Reader:

It's more like $100 or more and you exaggerate the risks a bit.

Hate to tell you but you sound like one of those senior citizens who live in the burbs, watch the local news carnage on TV and so believe they would be murdered if they set foot in the big bad city.

reader_iam said...

AJ Lynch:

Oh, get a sense of humor. It was a quip.

That said:

I don't live in the 'burbs, by the way, even now, living in the midwest, but in an urban, mixed (not upscale, either) neighborhood.

I've been in Philly many, many, many, many times, including during the time when I worked for an ethnic/foreign language independent television station.

And, during one of the community events we organized and staged, we were, in fact, located in a neighborhood in which, in fact, there were a few streets littered with burned out cars, horribly deteriorated and crumbling buildings, and infested with garbage and crime. It was an absolute shame for the people who struggled to live in those specific areas.

You sound like a humorless sort, who prefers to paint as a suburban geezer anyone who recognizes that not all is a bed of roses in urbia, much less dares a quip.

reader_iam said...

I know Philly pretty damn well, by the way, and when we move back East, my preference would be to live there (since New York is out of the question), but unfortunately it's not just up to me.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Gee, us white guys can be bought off with a couple of shots of cheap bar whiskey.

Have to raise the price, for $20 I could get two shots and a sandwich.

AJ Lynch said...

Reader:

My comment was an attempt at sarcasm - I know you are not some fuddy duddy senior.

I guess I need to work on my quips.

reader_iam said...

Yeah, well, and I've been known to jump to conclusions and overreact, all efforts against the inclination notwithstanding.

RIA <== work in progress

; )

JBlog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

I know, I know: This would be Trooper's cue to call me "a piece of work" in colorful ways in multiple languages.

JBlog said...

Just curious -- do you suppose this is another one of those things Obama SAYS he's not going to do but actually IS going to do?

You know, like taking money from oil interests and stuff.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Apparently there is a bit of a tempest gathering about something Obama said about rural Pennsylvanians on Sunday. I quote...

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them...And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

So now the country white folks may need more than walking around money.

Tully said...

Although I must confess that I love the joke that anyone who's opposed to gay sex ought to be in favor of gay marriage since the latter will put a stop to the former.

LOL. Also puts a stop to all that out-of-wedlock sex some folks get so upset about.

ricpic said...

re: Save The Rustbelt's quote:

The brilliant Obama, sticking a finger in the eyes of the very people he should be courting, or at the very least being civil to, in the runup to the Pennsy primary.

Maybe he's a bit more bitter, with nothing to be bitter about, than they are.

And maybe it means priority #1 in his administration will be punishing benighted whitey, not making nicenice.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Reader_Jam said:

"And, during one of the community events we organized and staged, we were, in fact, located in a neighborhood in which, in fact, there were a few streets littered with burned out cars, horribly deteriorated and crumbling buildings, and infested with garbage and crime.

It was an absolute shame for the people who struggled to live in those specific areas."

The shame of Philadelphia is that "the people" are the ones responsible or the crumbling buildings, garbage and crime. I lived in some of the shadiest parts of Philly during the crack era and saw the willful self destruction of neighborhoods and the ostracism of any local who dared to better themselves.

Decades of one-party rule (guess which party!) have only exacerbated Philly's decline into Detroit-style decay.

MadisonMan said...

I dunno ricpic, The native Pennsyltuckian in me thinks BHO has nicely captured the mindset of some of the people in small-town Pennsylvania. The idea of entitlement isn't restricted to Welfare Queens in center city Philly. I've known plenty of people who thought they were entitled to a good job because they were Americans.

Still, it's foolish to tell the truth sometimes for a campaigning politician. Wasn't it McCain who said the lost jobs in Michigan weren't coming back? Look where that got him in the Michigan primary.

Daryl said...

ricpic: I be 'stute, you be 'stute, all God's chilluns be 'stute.

You never miss an opportunity to take a racist swipe at blacks, do you?

Revenant said...

I dunno ricpic, The native Pennsyltuckian in me thinks BHO has nicely captured the mindset of some of the people in small-town Pennsylvania.

It describes some of the people just about anywhere. Heck, it is a pretty excellent description of much of black America, when you get right down to it.

But, as others have pointed out, if you think rural Pennsylvanians started out as liberal gun-control-supportin', free-tradin' cosmopolitans before the big factory in town went kaput, well... that's pretty naive. To the extent that liberal programs appeal to those communities it is because they're poor and out of work.

Trooper York said...

Reader, reader...I only kid because I care baby...lossen up.. the years as a journalist have given you Helen Thomasitis...we
all friends here...I'm just joshing....

W dupie byłeś, gówno widziałeś.

All the best, your pal Trooper.

Trooper York said...

And don't move to New York, move to Brooklyn, that's the place to be baby!

Louis said...

I am one of those people that gets and hands out "street money". I am a Democratic Ward Leader in Philadelphia. This is what me and my Committee People do all year to earn $100 twice a year.
1. Make sure all election boards are filled so people can vote.
2 Register voters.
3. Drive elderly and disabled voters to the polls.
4. Get a list of those who have not voted by 6:00 pm and get them to vote.
5. Stand at the polling place for 13 1/2 hours.
6. Deal with hundreds of neighborhood problems throughout the year.

Without us there would be no election because we fill the election Boards. We produce the vote and we make sure everyone votes. For this I make about $1.00 an hour. Even without the street we will do our jobs. We do this because we believe in our neighborhoods and even more we believe in the Democratic Party